Plea to remove birds from list of ‘pet animals’

NEWS STATES TAMIL NADU
TAMIL NADU
Plea to remove birds from list of ‘pet animals’
Mohamed Imranullah S.
CHENNAI 16 SEPTEMBER 2020 00:10 IST
UPDATED: 16 SEPTEMBER 2020 00:10 IST

Judges ask petitioner to approach the government authorities concerned
The Madras High Court on Tuesday expressed its reservations over entertaining a public interest litigation petition which opposed the inclusion of birds under the definition of ‘pet animals’ that could be domesticated and kept in captivity under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules of 2018.

Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said the prayer sought for by the litigant to declare Rule 2(k) as unconstitutional to the extent of inclusion of birds under the definition of pet animals would amount to asking the court to legislate and decide the contents of statutory rules.

The judges suggested that petitioner Vinod O. Jain of Chennai could instead withdraw the PIL plea and pursue the matter with the government authorities concerned. They granted his counsel Kaushik N. Sharma a day’s time to get instructions on the suggestion and directed the Registry to list the case for orders on Wednesday.

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In his affidavit, the petitioner contended that birds were a fundamental part of the ecosystem and were necessary for a healthy environment. They aid in pollination of flowers which, in turn, led to growth of fruits and vegetables. “By capturing birds and putting them in cages, this process is reduced drastically,” he said.

The petitioner contended that inclusion of birds in the definition of pet animals would lead to misrepresentation and even smuggling of prohibited species. He pointed to a news report last month regarding certain exotic birds smuggled across the India-Bangladesh border and sold for ₹14.2 lakh a pair.

He said the Gujarat High Court in Abdul Kadar Mohamed Azam Shaikh versus State of Gujarat had held that birds had a fundamental right to fly in the open skies and that keeping them in cages amounted to illegal confinement. A similar view had been taken by a single judge of the Delhi High Court also, he submitted.

However, Chief Justice A.P. Sahi wondered whether the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution could be extended that far. If such an interpretation was given to the provisions of the Constitution, then keeping fishes in aquarium and wild animals in zoos would also have to be declared unconstitutional and illegal, he added.

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